Downtown/Fremont Street, Las Vegas Travel Guide
- Fremont Street Experience, a 90-foot-tall, neon-lit vault canopy that plays videos and concerts (usually free)
- Iconic "Old Vegas" attractions, including the Vegas Vic cowboy sign and the Golden Gate hotel
- Typically cheaper hotel rates than on the Strip
- Small area, easy to explore the densely-arranged hotel-casinos on foot
- 10- to 15-minute cab ride from the Strip
- 20- to 25-minute drive from McCarran International Airport
- Dry, warm-to-hot weather most of the year (but winters can get chilly)
- Limited nightlife, aside from Gold Diggers at the Golden Nugget
- Less prestigious dining than on the Strip
- Prominent, family-unfriendly signage for strip clubs, like Glitter Gulch
- Nightly noise from the Fremont Street Experience (avoid low-floor, street-facing rooms)
- Blistering summers; average highs in the 100s (Fahrenheit) during July and August
What It's Like
Known as "Glitter Gulch" or "Old Vegas" -- where the city first started to develop its hotel-casinos back in 1906 -- Downtown Vegas consists of about 15 smaller-scale hotels and casinos on the westernmost four blocks (about a half mile) of Fremont Street, an area closed to vehicular traffic and lined with mobile stands selling T-shirts, caricatures, jewelry, and other touristy gewgaws.
Though typically cheaper, the hotel-casinos here -- save the famed Golden Nugget -- are a bit less wild and exciting than the dazzling stretch of newer giants along the Strip (two-and-a-half miles south of Downtown). The area is quieter, the average visitor tends to be closer to retiree-age than clubber-age, and the main draws tend to be low-minimum tables, nickel slots, and cheap eats like Golden Gate's 99-cent shrimp cocktail.
But there is a kitschy charm to these brightly lit streets -- a slice of the Las Vegas of yesteryear. You can spot the neon cowboy, "Vegas Vic," waving howdy from over a gift shop. And anyone visiting Vegas shouldn't miss Downtown's nightly music, light, and video show cast over the evening skyline, the Fremont Street Experience.
Where to Stay
The Golden Nugget, Downtown's crown jewel since 1946, is one of the only Fremont Street hotels that at least comes close to rivaling its counterparts on the Strip with its attractions and amenities. Its pool, for example, boasts a three-story waterslide that runs through a shark tank.
But outside the Nugget, options are more about value than razzle-dazzle. The Four Queens or Main St. Station have allowed rates to dip as low as $26 a night, but neither hotel has a pool on site, and the rooms, though clean, are fairly bare-bones (unlike most rooms on the Strip).
On the plus side, the Downtown area is relatively small -- only about a half mile -- so all of the neighborhood attractions are within walking of any of the hotels.